Sorrow Uncorks Everything

For what it’s worth I’m sorry for the Amy Schumer sturm und drang of the last couple of days. She’s a first-class talent and deserves more respect than what I gave her. I know I’m not thinking wrong but I’m probably saying it wrong from time to time. ”It’s hard to grow up…it doesn’t stop when you’re 40…a hard row to hoe.” These words were shared a few nights ago by Ethan Hawke during a Charlie Rose interview, and they got to me. So I’m sorry, truly, for not dealing my cards with a little more compassion and gentility. I wasn’t incorrect in saying that social attractiveness standards have changed over the past decade or so, largely due to the creations of one Judd Apatow and those who’ve climbed aboard his ferry boat. But I could have put it a bit more delicately and diplomatically. Then again that’s not what the HE brand is about, is it?

It’s in my Hollywood Elsewhere nature or karma to get beaten up once or twice each year by the moshpit beasts of the Twitterverse. Long is the road and hard that out of darkness leads up to light — that John Milton quote has my name on it. Sobriety (my third anniversary is a month away) has bestowed a sense of peace and even serenity at times, and it has toned down or modified the ever-present anger in the belly. Which I’m not at all sorry about as anger has been the eternal fuel of my writing career, born of an alcoholic father, a bordering-on-evil public school system and the awful repression of a whitebread, middle-class suburban upbringing that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Add to this a growing notion that I’ve learned a thing or two plus my natural inclination to shoot my mouth off first and think about it later, and wham…every now and then I poke a hornet’s nest or step on a landmine and the raptors parachute down upon Maple Street.

It feels really bad to be yelled at all the time. The PTSD thing is really quite upsetting and depressing. I get riled up and my back arches when I should take a stress pill.

The last time before the Schumer thing was when I intemperately predicted on the night of the Ferguson Grand Jury verdict that Selma would benefit down the road because people will want to celebrate the nobility and dignity and heroism of its depictions film rather than curse the present darkness. I was 100% right, and for that accuracy I was all but murdered by Twitter fiends. The time before that was the “Bellowing Psychopath” moment at Leows 34th Street when an African-American (i.e., non-Swedish) asshole wouldn’t stop barking out commentary and thereby ruined a screening of The Wolf of Wall Street. The time before that was the June 2013 James Gandolfini funeral thing.

I don’t want to drag the late, magisterial David Carr into this but his passing last night shocked me right down to the marrow of my bones, and we all know how great sadnesses have a way of re-ordering our thinking and opening our minds a crack. As I greatly admired Carr and as he had a place in his heart and his head for me, I want to be extra-worthy of his friendship today. I want to be better. I can’t get away from the anger but I want to be wiser and shrewder and get into fewer gang brawls. Peace to all except for certain brutes and haters who know who they are, and who will forever be blocked on Twitter and will be forever scowled at when I see them at screenings and other press events.

  • snakeskin

    Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

    • Yeah, true. I’m better at dishing it than taking it. I get very hurt and depressed and turned around when I get thrown into the mosh pit, especially when I know (as always) that my points are on target and particularly when the Twitter beasts are obviously of an inferior, less evolved breed.

      • Buck Swope

        i kind of feel like everyone on twitter is an inferior, less evolved breed. i have yet to find a use for it, other than watching celebrity after celebrity put their feet in their collective mouths.

        i was listening to a Grantland podcast yesterday and alex pappademas said he didn’t watch the super bowl, he just followed the twitter reaction in real time. how fucking stupid is that?

        • Kano’s_Razor

          I feel like there’s a LOT of overlap between podcasters and Twitterers (Tweeters, I guess…but that sounds so dumb).

          And that is most unfortunate — Morris and Pappademas are both pretty good writers (esp. when they put the work into long pieces), but their podcast is, sorry to say, pretty much unlistenable.

      • Joshsleeps

        Don’t ever change. Your honesty and authenticity are why I’m a faithful reader. Even when your opinions or phrasing infuriate me.


        A bearded, chubby Midwesterner

  • freeek

    I don’t know who Amy Schumer is, I don’t know why I should care about her, but I wouldn’t bet on her schtick for much longer. One Trainwreck trailer viewing and poof!

  • Schleppy

    That was a post worthy of David Carr. Self aware and direct and smart. I’m sure you’ll be getting some “first world problems” hits for your bit about the suburbs, but some of us get it. And I appreciate that in your more cogent, reflective moments you can differentiate between the (Twitterish) abuse you deserve and the abuse you don’t deserve — it’s an important distinction to make, rather than using it all to fuel anger or turn on yourself, and a good, healthy process to engage in.

  • Phil Parma

    Well done, Jeff, I even forgive you for erasing my post on the “Lord Jim” article. Takes a man to open yourself up. Good NYT article on the twitter fiends.

    • JR

      I read this article the other day and it really should be at the very top of this thread, the ultimate cautionary tale about the sanctimonious assholes who inhabit the darkest reaches of the twittersphere…

  • DublinMovieFan

    Well said. On a separate note, the pop up add for Boyhood is very annoying. It pops up every time you go to read a full article too. I for one would welcome pop-up ads being banned on HE!

    • Zach

      Jeffrey “Paycheck” Wells

  • Mr. F.

    See, everyone makes mistakes in how they phrase things from time to time. And by its very nature, the act of blogging — where the pressure to be first, and fastest, in commenting on news — only magnifies that.

    But if I can be critical here: there are times you take this to an extreme, but couch it as being “honest.” I would argue that you can — in fact, it’s really easy — be both honest AND civil. Or, at least, respectful. If you ever feel the need to say “I’m just being honest”: stop, reread what you’ve written, and actually think about whether it’s worth putting that down.

    It’s funny you mention Carr. I really do appreciate your loyalty to him… but the fact is, your glowing appraisal of the man in your obituary stands in stark contrast to the many more times you’ve written things like “I’m sorry, but [person X] was a has-been who hadn’t done good work in years” or “I’m sorry, but [person Y] was overweight, so why should anyone be surprised he had a heart attack” after someone notable has died. Honestly, I was expecting you to end your Carr post with something like “If you looked at recent pictures of the man, this shouldn’t have come as any kind of surprise… he looked gaunt, like a skeleton.” But you didn’t. Not because it’s true, or false, or whatever — but because it had no place. You respected him. If you ever have the urge to do an obituary on someone you don’t really care for… *don’t bother writing it and posting it.* Not worth your time.

    David Carr, for all his gifts, had an editor. You don’t need to respect people’s careers, or what they do… just try to respect them as *human beings*. We’re all in it together.

    • Fair enough.

    • OliviaRamona

      Well said. Both of you.

    • Kat

      Beautifully put.

    • MisterQuigley

      This is all well said and trite and all, but the hispanic party elephant in the room is that Jeff is a target for the recently-coined “twitter bitches”. And these guys LOVE to get their Wells hate-on. It’s one part jealousy, one part ageism, 5 parts mob mentality, and a dash of actual outrage over admittedly kooky dude spewing weird thoughts. These same guys write thousands of words about anti-bullying, and the second Jeff says something off script they rip him a new one. They actively try to silence and abuse him, school marm Anne Thompson certified. Anyway, I think we should celebrate “mistakes” from critics, not berate them for it. He said an actress is chubby, and the twitter-bitches lit their torches. Jeff’s not apologizing from self-realization, but rather self-preservation. And the irony of it all is that we, Jeff’s readers and commenters, would never ask him to apologize because his thoughts and absurd opinions are what this site is about. Don’t like it, don’t read it. The fact that Wells had to apologize for this, and is getting pats on the back for it, is making the Movie Godz both weep and laugh hysterically.

      • Blade Walker

        Man, I must miss everything regarding Wells on Twitter. Every time I look at his feed it’s just repetitive links to site updates.

      • SeanRobinson

        Oh, what a poor lil baby! He experienced consequences for saying something inane and disgusting! Truly no one has suffered like him for the simple crime of being a complete moron in the marketplace of ideas.

        It must be terrifying for certain people to realise that they don’t get a free pass for being sexist garbage.

      • Cassandra Drake

        that is a giant wall of words to say ” I don’t like it when women speak their minds and don’t allow me to objectify them or judge their worth by whether or not I want to sleep with them”

        Point of fact. Freedom of Speech is not Freedom from Repercussions of said speech. You can say what you like, but that doesn’t mean you wont get punched in the face for it by someone who takes offense.

  • Max Stephens

    “my natural inclination to shoot my mouth off first and think about it later” is part of what makes HE HE. A more reticent Wells would not be half as entertaining.

  • Anonymous By Force

    Somebody must’ve threatened to pull advertising.

    • No, I just felt really gloomy yesterday and I knew I had to say something when I woke up this morning.

  • Jeff

    I didn’t agree with your take on Schumer but the overreaction by Internet police is par for the course any time a white guy has an unpleasant thing to say about any one who isn’t a white man. If it hadn’t been you, someone else would have been the fall guy. I guarantee it happens to someone else right around the release date. You should keep being you but just know if you ever talk about a woman’s weight or looks or other button OC topic some blogger might attack you to get his own press.

    • Noiresque

      The “problem” is that the echo tunnel of Twitter has given a voice to people who have always felt negatively toward public figures. These public figures no longer can hide behind publicists and censored Letters To The Editor when faced with criticism and for generations of adults, it is a huge paradigm shift.

      And it’s not a “white man” problem or a PC problem or an Internet Police problem or a I Can’t Critique Women Without My Head Being Bitten Off by the SJW hoards problem. Among those who receive the most flack are Kanye West, Lena Dunham, Azealia Banks, Kristen Stewart, and hell, The Most Powerful Man In The World.

  • Noiresque

    “I know I’m not thinking wrong but I’m probably saying it wrong from time to time.” Presenting what one is thinking, but better, is one of the functions of art; and one of the points of being an adult.

  • AstralWeeks666

    Don’t beat yourself up Jeff. There is a sanctimonious PC echo chamber at large in Twitter and other social media and they will always be gunning for somebody like you who shoots from the hip. But it’s your non PC voice that makes you an engaging and vital writer and you should not let the haters get to you. Of course that’s easy for me to say as I’ve never had a Twitter lynch mob after me but there is an abundance of bland and inoffensive voices online. That is not what your readers are interested in.

    Now of course a lot of commentors here can be snide and hostile to you but that’s part of web culture in general. At least you are putting your own name to what you write and have to suffer the consequences. That’s braver than what we do.

    • Kano’s_Razor

      Exactly this.

      Just keep doing what you’re doing, Jeff — love you or hate you, you’re a damn interesting read most of the time, so people are more likely than not to keep checking back in. Most writers on the web would kill for that sort of repeat business in this day and age.

  • DrewAtHitFix

    Yes, sobriety has toned down your anger so much that you are sending me emails wishing me an early death because I blocked you on Twitter a month ago.

    You must have been one serious motherfucker of a drunk if this is the less angry version of you.

    • MisterQuigley

      Classy as always

  • Stewart Klein

    Buck up little camper, we’ll all get through this together.

  • Dr. Bob

    This is the thing, Amy Schumer is not even remotely chubby. There’s a scene in the trailer where she is wearing just a bra and she looks fine. She’s no super model, but she’s perfectly cute. I would totally bang her and I would brag to my friends the next day that I banged her.

    • JeffMc2000

      My only thing with her is her uncanny resemblance to Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story.

    • Spokker

      Her face is not conventionally attractive for a romantic comedy movie. I do believe that Bill Hader would go after her, but if LeBron James was her love interest in the movie, I wouldn’t believe it at all.

  • Kevin K

    I wonder how many commenters secretly agree with your “controversial” remarks, but throw the spotlight on you in order to feel better about themselves.

    I used to be an angry guy, but not for the same reasons as you, and probably not as much. But over time, I’ve gotten over it, and I bet you can, too. I remember your post about forgiveness. Forgiveness helped me, even if I have trouble forgiving myself more than anyone else in my life. Too, I salute your sobriety — that’s always a good thing.

    Another thing — and this is more easily said than done — is not to take stuff too seriously, especially something like show business. I’ve long accepted the idea of Hollywood studios turning out junk on a daily basis. On the other hand, unlike you it’s not my job to wallow through said junk. That has to be soul-wearying, to say the least.

    I used to take your “controversial” comments seriously, and stopped reading you for several years. I returned a few months ago, with my non-angry attitude, no longer taking you seriously. This isn’t meant as an insult. It just means I’ve accepted you for who you are. Sometimes I like reading what you have to say; sometimes I shake my head and move on. But I always come back the next day.

    Oh, and some of the commenters are funny as hell, too.

    • Noiresque

      Which post about forgiveness is this? I just remember him astonished that Philomena Lee forgave the nuns who sold her baby and posters explaining to no avail that forgiveness is actually about the personal act of the forgiver letting go of the burden more so than the forgiven receiving a Get Out Of Jail Card in forgoing atonement.

      • Kevin K

        I’m not sure what it was in regards to; it was several months ago. In fact, it was why I started posting to begin with.

  • There were several highly questionable issues with the post, but one thing that continues to puzzle me is “social attractiveness standards have changed over the past decade or so, largely due to the creations of one Judd Apatow and those who’ve climbed aboard his ferry boat.”

    Do you really think that Judd Apatow, love him or hate him, has influenced what people find attractive. As if I wouldn’t have found person X attractive if I hadn’t seen his movies? It’s preposterous. What am I not getting?

  • Blade Walker

    Here’s the rub, Mr. Wells. Your unpopular opinions are what keeps people coming back and the ad revenues up. I sure as hell hope this doesn’t mean you’ll stop jumping into the fray with politically incorrect trial balloons. What would this site be if you weren’t commenting on people’s sartorial choices or personal behavior?

    Also, I think you’re on to something with the Apatow-inspired standard of attractiveness, but it could have been phrased more clearly. Hell, I think Apatow took a page from Woody in his casting of Jewish or gentile schlubs who get laid left and right. He’s carrying on a fine tradition of unrealistic pairings ushered in during the 70s.

    • JeffMc2000

      I don’t know about that—Apatow’s first movie starred Steve Carell, who’s not a bad looking guy, really. His second starred Seth Rogan, but the comedic conceit of the movie was that he wasn’t good enough for the female lead. Then Funny People with Sandler—lots of people put Sandler in movies, rightly or wrongly. Then This Is 40 with Paul Rudd, who’s a pretty traditionally good looking guy.

  • Bob Strauss

    To jump into the sanctimonious, let’s give Jeff tips on how to conduct civil discourse fray: For the last time, man, the word is magisterial.

  • N Thompson

    This is taking away from the real issue, which is LexG’s mid-year breakdown when he witnesses Swinton’s performance.

  • Steven Gaydos

    What if there were no “predators” to distract from the real issue(s)? What if sobriety were a life-saving and life-enhancing alternative to sloshing about in dah booze, but not a cure for stinkin’ thinkin’? What if fear of sensitivity and kindness were conquered and replaced by the realization that real men don’t flee civil discourse and feel threatened by compassion but embrace both? These are questions for us, all of us. You may consider pondering them along with us.

    • MisterQuigley

      Question Guy has Questions… I have one – did all of you use your studio contacts to attempt to put Wells out of business, or just some of you? Like McWeeney was rallying for? Because he called an actress chubby? Sorry, multiple. Someone linked a nytmag article about bullying upthread you should put your eyes to. It might entail admitting you perhaps are wrong, so if you have a problem with that…

  • Finis Terre

    A heartfelt, well written comment, Jeff, way classier than the overreacting here and… elsewhere.

  • TheEmperorIsStarkers

    It’s not “Sturm und Drang” when you get called out for writing something insulting and false. It’s called criticism — and it was richly deserved in your case. #fauxpology

  • Sparks13

    Ferry Boat? Seriously? Fuck you and that Vienna sausage you call a dick. Quit letting the media dictate what you are and aren’t going to like you sad sack.

  • iluvJebus

    You’re only (half-heartedly)apologizing because you got called out.. “I’m not thinking I am wrong but I am probably saying it wrong”.. wtf kind of apology is that?! Is that the best you can do?
    One last thing, you got a LOT of nerve calling ANYONE ugly, have you looked in the mirror lately?
    What about the other actresses you insulted in your rant, McCarthy, etc.?
    You’re just a dick, an eloquent dick, but a dick. And it’s all society and your messed up parents fault… Uh huh.

  • Moviefan23

    Calling a woman who is a size 6 (according to her very funny Instagram responses) “chubby” is not “thinking right” but “saying it wrong.” It’s not being honest, accurate, thoughtful or unconventional. It’s engaging in the same boorish, juvenile name-calling and body-shaming that sadly goes on in every high school in America. How many critics will use the term “not conventionally beautiful” before they admit that they are the ones helping to perpetuate this antiquated and sexist idea of what a woman should look like on the big or small screen?
    I am glad that you apologized for the disrespectful insults you hurled at a very talented and very funny woman, but the self-pity is woefully misplaced. And tracing society’s allegedly new standards of attractiveness to Judd Apatow is just plain silly. Melissa McCarthy (also a target for your unhinged insults) was a popular TV star (Gilmore Girls, Samantha Who, Mike & Molly) before Bridesmaids. And Jennifer Lawrence, to take one of many examples, was apparently told by many dim bulbs in Hollywood that she needed to lose weight until other people in Hollywood who are not Apatow,(including Lawrence herself) realized that this was all incredibly stupid advice. I really like Judd Apatow, always have, but I don’t need him to tell me what is or isn’t attractive to me. Fairly sure that there are millions of people who share that view.

  • Nikki Santacroce

    Just saw a picture of what you look like. Amy Schumer wouldn’t screw you with Melissa McCarthy’s vagina.

  • Rico Dagastino

    Mr Wells wrote “there’s no way she’d be an object of heated romantic interest in the real world.” Perhaps not in Mr Wells world, but in the world in which the rest of us reside there are far better and much more accurate means of expressing opinions.

  • Spokker

    The stupidest thing you did was apologize. You said nothing wrong and brought up some fair points that your critics cannot refute but simply respond with childish, “OMG ur such a hater” type arguments.

    But what ounce of respect I had for you vanished when you capitulated with your tails between your legs. Was looking forward to more debate but why bother when the source of the controversy won’t even stand by his remarks.

    ” Peace to all except for certain brutes and haters who know who they are, and who will forever be blocked on Twitter and will be forever scowled at when I see them at screenings and other press events.”

    What are you, a 16-year-old girl?

  • SueH

    Nope. You’re still a jerk/a**hole, and I feel sorry for the women in your life (if there are any).

  • ContempLawtive

    not much of an apology, dude! “gee, I insulted you, but next time I’ll insult you in a kinder, gentler fashion–sorry for all the drama everyone else created because I was a jerk!” (btw, I never heard of you before, but Amy Schumer is extremely famous. I guess insulting her got you some attention!)